We’ve got a new development in the story about the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program.
Former New Orleans defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, who spent last season with Seattle, has issued a lengthy statement, courtesy of NFC North colleague Kevin Seifert. Hargrove was a central figure in early reports on this story. A Sports Illustrated story even said Hargrove was vocally celebrating after Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre was injured in the NFC Championship Game between the Saints and Vikings in the 2009 season.
We’ll run Hargrove’s written statement in its entirety and editorialize on it a bit at the bottom. Here’s what Hargrove had to say:
First of all, the purpose of this statement is simply to address the comments that have been made about me in the media. I will not address anything to do with anyone else but myself.
In regards to the hit I made on Brett Favre that has been talked about: it was one of about five times I got to him and the only one that was late. I agree it was a late hit, but in the heat of the moment I was simply trying to make a play. I can assure you that when I got up, I was thinking two things, one, that I cost my team, and two, that I might have just cost myself some money if the NFL fined me.
To put things in perspective, I received a game ball for my play that day and yet got fined while receiving nothing and expecting to receive nothing for the play some keep referencing. Kudos to Brett, he even asked me if that was all I had! Gotta love him.
And in regards to my comments that have been talked about where I say that Favre is done, I readily agree that it sounds bad in retrospect. A lot of things look bad when we look back and realize how they sound. Trust me, I've said much, much worse. Heck, I probably say worse every day.
But did I personally want Favre INJURED? Absolutely and categorically NO! Did I feel like we, the Saints, had a better chance of being in the Super Bowl with Favre on the sideline? Of course. Would the Patriots and their fans have probably been excited to see Eli [Manning] on the bench with his foot up whispering that he was done [in Super Bowl XLVI]? Would players on the sideline have made comments to that effect? Right or wrong, I'm guessing yes.
Probably every Saints fan, player and coach got an adrenaline rush when thinking Minnesota might be in trouble. I said what many people were probably thinking, though maybe I said it in a way that sounded a bit too excited. Those who know me best know that I lean toward the animated side a bit. Okay, a lot! It's who God made me. I do regret saying it, though.
I have made many mistakes in my life and have paid dearly for some of them, and the late hit and the comments were both mistakes, in my opinion. But players all over the league do the same thing every Sunday, make late hits and say stupid things. But I can say with absolute certainty that neither the late hit nor the comment have anything whatsoever to do with the issue being so hotly discussed in the media.
All right, that was pretty interesting. First off, I’ll agree with Hargrove that he is an animated sort. I’ve interviewed him several times and he’s always been very talkative and emotional. If he says his comments were made in the heat of the moment, I believe him.
But the thing that really stands out here is that there is never a mention of the bounty program. Hargrove talks about getting fined by the NFL for his hit on Favre. But he never makes any mention of financial reward.
Does that mean Hargrove was saying there was no bounty program? We don’t know. Hargrove didn't deny its existence. He simply addressed the two plays connected to him and said there was no bounty involved in those plays.